Wind-up lanterns have been around for a little while, but recently they have got a lot cheaper and brighter. There are no batteries, no electrical charging required and instant light on winding. There are 3 brightness levels to choose from, so winding the handle for 3 minutes will provide 20 minutes of light with all 12 LED bulbs on, 30 minutes when 8 of the LED bulbs are lit and 40 minutes if only 4 of the LEDs are on.
How does it work?
The lantern has 12 LED bulbs, with settings to use all 12, 8 or 4 for varying levels of light. It is charged by winding a handle, which drives a dynamo. There are therefore no batteries required, and no carbon emissions, other than the emissions in creating it.
How did it work for me?
Well it is camping season, the festivals are well underway, and that generally means stacks of batteries in the rucksack and a standard battery powered torch and lantern. After hearing about these LED wind-ups I really wanted to give them a try, so I packed my bags for Glastonbury and put in a couple of these lanterns for the tent.
After taking it out of the box, I wound the handle and got an instant white light. The settings do seem to make a difference, but even on the highest setting, it wasn’t overly bright. But with two of them I had ample light to see what I was doing in the tent and made it possible to get changed without falling over things, and under different circumstance (if I was on a camping trip for example) I am pretty sure I could have read a book, although the light is a little white for me – I miss the warm light that I get with my LEDs at home, but I appreciate this is a personal choice!
I also found there was an initial brightness that tends to wear off after a few minutes. So, despite lasting as it said it would for the 20 mins with all 12 bulbs illuminated, it was certainly brighter in the first 2-3 minutes, but if you were looking to read or something it would require you to wind repeatedly. The lantern would however be really useful in a power cut or when you need to get out of your tent to go to the toilet during the night though.
So the lantern is are a great little product if you need to do pretty simple tasks in the dark, like getting changed, or find the toilet, however for doing things like reading a book it works less well due to the continual winding to keep the optimum brightness. Perhaps one of the more expensive models has a better light and lasts longer, but that will need another review…